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Mid-American Conference to make sure NIU doesn’t lose money on Orange Bowl

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) looks pass during first half an NCAA college football game against IowSoldier Field Chicago

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) looks to a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa at Soldier Field in Chicago, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: January 12, 2013 6:16AM

If Northern Illinois can’t sell the 17,500 tickets it must buy from the Orange Bowl or can’t fill its required
number of hotel rooms in the days before the first BCS bowl berth in school history, it need not worry.

The Mid-American Conference has the Huskies’ back.

MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher told NIU athletic director Jeff Compher the conference will purchase unsold tickets and/or hotel rooms to ensure the school meets its obligations without absorbing financial losses, as other schools have in the past.

‘‘That has really given us a finan-
cial safety net from our conference,’’ Compher said. ‘‘I have to hand it to commissioner Steinbrecher. He understood this would be an issue for any team from the MAC going, he anticipated that and he has met with the presidents and others to be sure no team is going to take a loss on this game.’’

Playing in a major bowl game isn’t always a moneymaker, as Connecticut learned when it played Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2011. UConn was required to purchase about $3.35 million worth of tickets, sold only $676,248 and was required to pay the difference.

‘‘We’re all in this together,’’ Steinbrecher said. ‘‘We really view this as certainly an NIU celebration, but it’s also a conference celebration. We’ve worked collectively to raise the level of this league, and we will work collectively to raise
money to fulfill our obligations.’’

While the Huskies stand to make more money after earning an
Orange Bowl berth, expenses will be much higher than for a MAC-affiliated bowl. Planes must be chartered to transport the team, the band and support personnel to Miami. NIU will be in South Florida longer than it would be away for a typical bowl, which means more
hotel and food costs.

The MAC is expected to earn about $8 million from the Huskies’ Orange Bowl berth. Steinbrecher said he will use half that to underwrite NIU’s expenses. The rest, as well as a portion of yet-to-be-determined revenue from the BCS, will be split equally among conference members.

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